Thursday, June 14, 2012

Pride Goeth Before a Fall

I have spent several hours thinking about what went wrong yesterday, trying to find some perspective on the issue that Ashke and I seem to have revisited yesterday, and the only conclusion I could come to was that I got cocky. I was so pleased with our progress and being able to ride outside the arena that I completely overlooked the fundamental understanding of my plan. Remember my plan? That and the success we both had at the gymkhana the stable held on the first of June. He did so well that I lost sight of what I was dealing with and what has worked for the two of us, over and over.


I need to remember there is a reason you work the horse consistently in the arena until there are no hiccups. You school and school and school until execution is flawless. Even if it means riding in circles over and over again. In both directions. At the gait the rider chooses. Until the rider decides to stop.

I should have known, because he was nippy yesterday. I should have worked him in the arena. I will, going forward, work him in the arena until there is no issue with a walk, slow jog, extended trot and canter. We will work on transitions and deliberate gaits. We will continue at this until it is engrained and I no longer need to worry. Over and over again. Because that is what works. Ashke responds best to routine. He enjoys new things, but he learns and retains best what is done the same way, every day. We will work the arena until there is no head flipping, no tail wringing, no nipping and no protest.

I had forgotten how much time I spent riding Queenie in circles my first year with her. How consistently I schooled her because I was planning on showing her in 4H and wanted to do well. My first year we won four blue ribbons and two rosettes, and tied for best in class in the Trail Ride event. It took hours of schooling to achieve that success. That is what I need to apply to Ashke's training now. We can ride for four miles every day, we'll just be doing it in the arena, until it becomes second nature for the boy.

So, about yesterday . . .

Here is Ashke tacked up and ready to go.

I've been off work this week, so I have spent a bunch of time riding. Yesterday was no different. I ran errands early and then tacked up. Our workout in the round pen was minimal. I headed to the big arena.

Ashke in the big arena watching the manure spreader empty into the manure bin.

Ashke was very hyper yesterday. He was nippy and not interested in working in the arena. I disregarded my plan. I should have worked him longer, but I was drunk on our success. I was excited about trying a new trail. I felt invincible. HA!

Sorry about the finger. Taking pics on horseback is challenging. This is the real start to the trail.

It was a really beautiful ride. Although Ashke was a lot more assertive than when we rode out the day before.

Nice big shoulder along 144th headed for McKay Lake Open Space.

It really was a beautiful trail!

Lot's of willow.

And a lake.

Which he wanted nothing to do with.

The trees were something to snort at . . . maybe because they don't have many in Texas?

Quiet and peaceful. No dogs. No strollers. Lulled me into a false relaxation.

It's kind of hard to see, but there is a monster storm drain hidden under that tree. Ashke spooked pretty good when we walked around that corner. He wasn't real excited about standing within attack range (500 hundred feet for storm drains) while I took the picture.

The whole loop was gorgeous. And very nice to ride. Still need to get used to whipping brances.

The last obstacle of the day. I hand walked him across it with no problems. When I remounted he knew where he was and was fighting me to go home. We trotted up to the pedestrian crosswalk, where we had crossed before and I hand walked him back across the street.

When I got back on, we were on the verge along 144th and he began fighting me for real. It took a great deal of work to keep him at a walk, since he was dancing sideways with his head toward the fence. He kept rearing up and curvetting, trying to take off for home. I finally got him settled, but we were walking faster than normal to get us back to the barn. Every time the footing changed, Ashke tried to move back into a trot. I didn't feel like I couldn't handle it and with a little work he would settle back down. When we reached the end of the path there was a nice, wide patch of grass along the road. We had cantered along it on the way out, so I decided to let him out a little to canter again. Two steps and he threw me.

The toss happened right before the left turn onto 149th.

Why the hell can't I stay on any longer? I know, age and time and distance. That would have been nothing as a kid. More of a joke than anything else. Maybe that is where the cockiness is coming from - my mind is still eighteen and hasn't recognized my body is almost 50. Damn body. It wasn't even a real hard buck, but it still threw me over his head and onto the ground. I landed flat on my back. Head hit the ground. Thank god for helmet's! Never ride without one. Most of the impact, however, was across the back of my pelvic girdle. I felt like I had been drop kicked.

Ashke jerked away from me and started to trot away. I pushed myself up through the pain and called to him. He stopped and turned around, kind of like he was wondering why I was down there. I called him again and he came right over to me. I finally stood up, released his reins and started home. He seemed sober enough now that we were both walking.

I can't describe how much pain I was in. I kept telling myself it was just pain and to keep moving through it. I was terrified I had wrecked something in my back again. Although, the pain was across the back of my pelvis and not really in my spine. I walked Ashke back to the round pen and made him canter around in both directions for several times. I then untacked him, led him to the wash area and rinsed him off. He was very docile and in retrospect, probably wondering why I was acting funny. He didn't even fight the bath. (This is how I know that my new plan will bring success. Consistency has produced results in working with him.)

By the time I got him put away and my tack stored, I was in tears. I got in the car, busted open a gatorade and called J. I sobbed on the phone. She was concerned and reassuring. I drove home and called J to come get me and take me to the ER. I was stupid the last time I was thrown from a horse and this time I wanted to be smart. Not to mention, I do have health insurance, so I should use it.

T was a bit freaked out and worried, but he pushed the wheelchair like a trooper. Here I am, waiting in one of the rooms in the ER at Saint Anthony's North.

They did a CT scan to check for fractures in my pelvis and for internal bleeding. The IV was inserted so they could shoot iodine into my bloodstream. I guess it rushes through the body pretty fast and allows contrasting pictures of the abdomen.

 And this is the CT scanner, which showed bad bruising but no broken bones. Or internal bleeding.

Me, after a shot for pain. I was out of it.

Finally leaving the hospital,

Things to Remember about today:

1. When that little voice in your head tells you to get off and walk, do so.

2. Cantering toward home is never a good idea.

3. Schooling, schooling, schooling.

4. Sometimes bruises hurt worse than broke things.

5. Slow Down!

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